Speaking Evil of Dignities

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“But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.” (2 Peter 2:10)

In context here, Peter is speaking of the false teachers who would later come into the Christian community, leading many to “follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:2). Among other characteristics, these teachers would “despise government” and “speak evil of dignities.”

Again in context, it seems clear that the “government” Peter has in mind primarily is the divine government that had been established by God for the universe (the “principalities and powers in heavenly places”—Ephesians 3:10) and the “dignities” refer to the angels—even those that have rebelled and now follow Satan. Jude notes in a similar passage that even the archangel Michael spoke respectfully to Satan, the premier fallen angel (Jude 8-9).

Therefore, it is carnally arrogant and dangerous for men to insult or to ridicule such powerful beings. They are for God to judge and deal with, in His own time and way.

And the same must be true of human “dignities” and “government.” We must remember that “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1) and that “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will,” and sometimes He even “setteth up over it the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17).

Even if we live in a republic, therefore, and can participate in the selection of our leaders, our main responsibility is to “be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (Titus 3:1-2). HMM